The Dark Side of Tolerance

Often tolerance is referred to in a positive light. We are told that tolerance is a trait we should be cultivating to be more at peace with ourselves and others.

Today, I want you to challenge this perspective.

While I agree that tolerance can be very useful in dealing with ourselves and others, and especially in accepting different points of view, an effort to be “tolerant” may also result in settling for less than we deserve in our lives.

Is it useful to tolerate different perspectives? Yes. Is it useful to tolerate different styles of operating in the world? Absolutely.

But when does tolerance betray us?

How useful is it for us to tolerate mediocrity or self-sabotaging habits? Should we tolerate being undervalued? Absolutely NOT!

Why We Unconsciously Tolerate Too Much
In an effort to be nice, to not rock the boat, to avoid the discomfort of hearing “no” when we ask for what we really want; we often tolerate a sub-par existence.

Afraid that we might not be worthy of a better job, a healthier relationship, a promotion or raise, we simply “deal” with what we have been given. Often times we do this with a smile on our face for others to see while inside we are a churning, burning fire pit of frustration and rage.

But it is not always others’ behaviors that we tolerate too much from. We often tolerate behaviors from ourselves that are sabotaging our efforts to get ahead in our lives.

We tolerate our tendency to distract and numb ourselves when we feel overwhelmed by speaking up.

The dark side of tolerance is accepting a reality that is far less than the greatness that we came here to express…it is ignoring the authentic inner voice that is calling for something more, something bigger…

Where Over Tolerance May Be Showing Up in Your Life
Over tolerance shows up in many facets of our lives. But let’s take a few of the main ones that may be affecting you right now.

At WORK, you may be settling for less compensation than you know you are worth. Or maybe you tolerate behavior from your employees or coworkers that really do not work for you. You may sit through unproductive meetings when you know there are more fruitful, productive ways you and your team could be spending your time. Afraid to rock the boat, you keep your mouth shut and put up with these time and energy wasters.

In your RELATIONSHIPS, you may be putting up with behaviors that don’t feel good to you. You may be dealing with consistently frustrating communications. Maybe you have accepted the feeling of being underappreciated by others or you have accepted a chronic feeling of hopelessness around the lack of teamwork or healthy collaboration with those in your life.

Afraid of what you may lose, you say nothing, or fall into predictable patterns of frustration and anger. And in the end, you stay stuck in relationships that aren’t serving you.

Maybe you have become too tolerant in the way that you relate to TIME. Perhaps you continue to pay the consequences that a lack of planning can create. Or maybe, you continue to neglect taking the necessary time for nurturing your body, mind and spirit. Accepting the thought that “you don’t have time to take care of yourself.”

Afraid of appearing selfish or having to take responsibility, you allow your relationship with time to perpetuate a feeling of chaos in your everyday reality.

The Cost of Being Too Tolerant
Tolerance for a reality that we know isn’t ideal can cost us time, energy, confidence and self-worth. It also carries a huge “opportunity cost” factor that most of us don’t realize.

We waste time in frustrated, venting conversations with others (usually with people who have no power to actually change the situation we are in). We also waste time ruminating about the situation in our own heads…while we could be thinking about other, much more productive matters!

And these resentful internal and external dialogues are massively draining, leaving us unproductive, stressed, and less able to access our creative drive.

All the while, there are other opportunities waiting for us; if we would only step out of our comfort zone, dream big, and ASK for what we really want!

You Have a Choice in the Matter 

No matter how stuck you feel today, please remember that you ALWAYS have a choice. We are only victims of our reality as long as we accept this as true. Believing in your ability to speak is the most empowering mindset you can adopt.

“…what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised and misunderstood. The speaking profits me, beyond any other effect.”  Audrey Lorde

image00Tolerance and Leadership
Thinking big and cultivating a healthy stance of unacceptance of the status quo in your life is not just about you.

It’s about leadership.
It’s about thinking big for everyone involved.
If everyone were simply tolerant about the state of their lives and the state of the world we wouldn’t have electric cars popping up as options, organic foods showing up in our grocery stores, or solar panels donning more and more rooftops across the world.
We NEED a healthy dose of intolerance and it starts with the choices you make in your everyday life…

Cultivating a Healthy Tolerance Mindset

Usually the unhealthy mindsets we adopt unconsciously are passed to us through our family dynamics or by the society in which we live. Tolerance is one of those mindsets and although useful at times, it needs to be brought into our conscious awareness so we are not acting on autopilot or a playing victim to our circumstances.

A powerful exercise to help you cultivate a healthy mindset around tolerance, is to create an inventory.

First make a list of all of the areas in your life where tolerance has potentially become a liability for you. For each item, you can ask yourself:
“Is my tolerance serving my senior purposes or not?”
“How much time do I spend on this behavior or person?”
“How much time do I spend thinking about this?”
“How much time do I spend recovering from this behavior?”

This one simple exercise provides insights into the true cost of your tolerance from a time and energy perspective – which most definitely translates into your financial empowerment.

And think about all of the extraordinary things you could accomplish if so much of your energy was not being drained by these aspects of your life!

Becoming aware of the areas where you may be compromising too much of yourself has the power to positively shift your relationships, your work and your relationship with yourself.

With this simple first exercise, you are already moving from the dark to the light side of tolerance…

There’s really only one difficulty.

And that’s breaking through the resistance you have inside yourself.

Would you like to do that?

Would you like to continue taking this conversation deeper with me …
and break through the resistance you have inside yourself?

Just shoot me a quick email at:

Together, let’s cultivate a healthy mindset around tolerance and watch our lives and our world begin to change.

I’m listening.


Categories: setting boundaries

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The belief that opened doors for me? Discovering I could serve others through making the right requests. The request itself became a vehicle for personal transformation. I became more courageous and more confident.